Express & Star

Who is Richard Parker? New West Midlands Mayor's career and priorities after election win

Richard Parker is the new West Midlands Mayor.

Last updated

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276

The Labour candidate successfully unseated Andy Street on Saturday, winning by 1,508 votes and ending the Tory's seven-year stint in the city.

But who is he?

The 60-year-old's father was a dock worker while his mother was a school secretary.

Speaking earlier this year, he said: "I come from working-class roots, my dad was a dock worker and my mum was a school secretary, so I know the realities of working hard to make ends meet.

“I left school at 16, I was determined to make something of my life.

"I put myself through college and university and I've had a successful career."

That career includes working his way up to be a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers during a 27-year career at the professional services firm from 1989 to 2016, where he ended up as the company’s lead on housing and communities.

During that time he was involved in setting up the West Midlands Combined Authority.

After that he went on to launch RP Strategy where he specialised in political consultancy work and, more recently, he has run a business providing support to small- and medium-sized businesses.

He said his work had brought £1 billion worth of investment to the region.


Labour's Richard Parker has become the new West Midlands Mayor

Mr Parker had made housing, transport, and tackling the cost-of-living crisis his priorities.

He said his vision for the West Midlands would mean more opportunities for people to access skills and education, enabling them to get well-paid, high quality jobs, and said the region had suffered years of decline.

He has also said he would work with councils and developers to ensure new, warmer, affordable homes are built in the places where they are needed, and ensure more people are able own their own home. He's also pledged to tackle rogue landlords to drive up standards in the private-rental sector.

"The opportunities that were open to me when I was starting out just aren’t there for young people today. I'll fix that because people here can't afford any more excuses," he said in December last year.

Talking about housing, he's said: “Owning a home is a distant dream for too many people and Conservative mismanagement of the economy means that people can’t afford to heat their homes or buy food," also saying that too many people in the region rely on insecure jobs with low pay.

Mr Parker said he had lived and worked in the West Midlands all his adult life and had worked in business to provide housing, regeneration and secure investment into the region.

“I’m committed to using my experience and skills to make all parts of our region places where everyone can thrive, and no one is left behind."

Speaking in the spring, he also said a key focus was to bring buses under public control.

"Buses will help drive our economy taking people to the jobs they need, the skills they want, to the high streets and across communities," he said.

"They get people to the doctors, to school and to see friends. Buses tackle loneliness, help with our environment and will make a huge difference to people in every part of the West Midlands."

The process, known as franchising, would allow the Mayor to control routes, fares and overall standards for buses in the region, decisions currently made by private bus companies. Franchising would mean operators will instead be contracted to run services on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Mr Parker has described the West Midlands buses as 'not reliable enough and too expensive', adding: "For far too long, our buses have been run in the interests of the private companies, not passengers. Last year we saw fares rise, despite promises from the Mayor. The only way to ensure buses are cheap, reliable and serve every single corner of our region is to take control."

Education and employment are other priorities, saying he would guarantee high-quality apprenticeships for every young person that wants one. In April he said one of his first tasks would be to convene a 'taskforce' of employers, businesses, colleges and training providers to attract investment and create the skilled, experienced workforce businesses across the region need to thrive, promising 150,000 new jobs and training opportunities.